Botetourt County Historical Museum is featuring a special holiday exhibit through December.
“All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt,” said Charles M. Schulz of “Peanuts” fame. Starring a collection of vintage chocolate molds, the exhibition reviews the history of chocolate and its arrival in the New World.
Chocolate can be traced from 1500 B.C. By 500 A.D., the Mayans enjoyed drinking chocolate made from the beans that grow in Mesamerica. In 1528 Montezuma is said to have welcomed the Spanish explorer, Hernan Cortez, with a banquet that included drinking chocolate.
The first known American “chocolate house” was established in Boston in 1682.
Benjamin Franklin sold chocolate from his print shop in 1737. George Washington also enjoyed “chocolate cream” at Mount Vernon. During the American Revolution, chocolate was provided to the troops as rations and payment in lieu of currency.
In the 1800s, solid chocolate was finally developed and molds were used to create appealing forms in which to market it to the public. Rudolf Lindt, a name still known today for chocolate treats, invented the “conch” machine that gave the chocolate a smooth consistency. Since the1800s, three dimensional chocolate figures could be made with metal “double molds” like these.